At New Mills United Reform Church Hall
Chaired by Cllr Alan Barrow of High Peak Borough Council
With Ruth George MP and High Peak Police Inspector Phil Booth
Cllr Barrow welcomed everyone to the meeting and introduced the speakers
Ruth George MP:
- Many of the messages and emails I receive are about crime and anti-social behaviour.
- Whilst Derbyshire is an area of relatively low crime compared to the rest of the country, and High Peak is one of the safest areas of Derbyshire, when you are affected by crime or anti-social behaviour, it blights your life.
- Policing a widespread area like High Peak is a challenge, especially as police funding has been cut nationally by over 20%, and by 26% in Derbyshire since 2010.
- New Mills and Chapel police stations have had to close.
- Glossop and Buxton police stations now cover the whole of High Peak.
- Derbyshire have lost over 400 police officers – around 18% of officers – and that has impacted all areas, including High Peak.
- Our police officers are very dedicated, as I saw when I did a 12 hour shift on a Friday night.
- But they are also very stretched and it can take longer than they want to respond to incidents.
- There are ways we can all work together as communities to tackle crime and I’d like to thank those people who are doing so and give them support.
- We also need to spread awareness of crime and do as much as we can as individuals to prevent it.
- That’s why I asked Inspector Booth to join me at a public meeting to help us all understand the policing challenges in High Peak and do as much as we can to help our police, and I’d like to thank him for doing so.
High Peak Police Inspector Phil Booth:
Inspector Booth has worked across High Peak, including as part of New Mills SNT.
There have been considerable changes in the last 2½ years:
Two and a half years ago:
- Glossop Station had five sergeants and 50 constables.
- The Safer Neighbourhood Team had four constables for Glossopdale and New Mills.
- This was mirrored in Buxton.
- Both Glossopdale & Buxton had Section Inspectors.
- There are 50 response constables across the whole of High Peak.
- They work five shift patterns with a maximum of 10 officers per shift.
- Four SNT constables cover Glossopdale and four cover Buxton.
- There are 12 PCSOs + two youth engagement PCSOs who work with schools across High Peak.
Hard decisions have to be taken regarding what can and cannot be done by police, what is investigated and what isn’t.
BUT – we are still better off in High Peak than other areas of the North Division of Derbyshire. Except for Derbyshire Dales, High Peak has the highest level of officers for our population and the lowest level of crime.
High Peak has bucked the national trend of rising crime. At the end of the last financial year:
- Crime in High Peak was down 4%
- Burglary was down by 30%
A team of warrant officers have started dedicated work on arrest warrants and have had some good recent successes with persistent offenders.
Crime is changing – in the past, burglaries would be break-ins through windows; today it’s through ransomware committed by criminal thousands of miles away.
Officers working on cyber-crime, people trafficking, child sexual exploitation and other specialist areas are based at police HQ. Although they are not in High Peak, they work on crimes here. We have seen all of those crimes in High Peak.
Unless it’s an emergency, ring 101 to report a crime. All staff are told to record all crimes that are reported although police might not be able to go out.
For some crimes, such as shed burglaries, little can be gleaned from a visit to the site. All the relevant information can usually be gathered over the phone.
Insp Booth holds a weekly review of all reported cases to see if there are any patterns emerging and to allocate a team to investigate if necessary.
It’s very important to report all crimes to see if there are any patterns and to make sure we get the correct police numbers. If reported crime goes down, High Peak may lose more police.
Anti-Social Behaviour in New Mills
Numerous incidents were reported around Newtown Rec in autumn 2017.
Derbyshire police brought in extra resources around Hallowe’en, bonfire night and the Christmas lights, including from Chesterfield. They also worked with Greater Manchester Police and the Transport Police.
Unusually, people were coming into New Mills from outside the area. The police are already working with the Community Safety Partnership on plans for autumn 2018.
However, we do need to allow children to be children. They refuse to police youngsters out of the park in daytime, although of course they do when it’s late.
Questions & Comments from the floor
Rebecca Harman spoke about plans for New Mills Youth Centre. A group had been set up to oversee the plans and had been talking to Derbyshire County Council about the possibility of turning the building into a community centre, including voluntary services and health.
They are hoping to get something in place for September.
A Facebook group has been set up for anyone who would like to get involved: New Mills Community Centre Committee.
New Mills PCSOs were praised for being well connected and very useful.
Insp Booth: High Peak currently have 16 PCSOs – on paper we should only have 12, but I will retain them as they are contracted to work for me.
Youth engagement officers are going into schools to talk about online grooming – what it looks like – and sexting, which happens here as much as in cities.
The relationship that PCSOs have with their community is invaluable as they pick up lots of useful intelligence. PCSOs who visited secondary schools said they needed to visit Year 6 classes in primary schools so now this is happening.
Thefts from Farms and Vans: farms are targeted from time to time for thefts of machinery and sheep; these are dealt with immediately. There was a national problem regarding the theft of tools from vans – this was being looked at to see if there were any trends or links.
Child Grooming – Advice for parents: know what your children are looking at online, who they are chatting to, and be aware of any changes in their behaviour.
Insp Booth recommended the Thinkuknow website: https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/ which is run by CEOP – Child Exploitation and Online Protection.
New Mills Police Station: the station is now closed. Police do now have mobile equipment which allows them to work remotely, for example Police are now working with the Fire Service in New Mills, and come over regularly. However, Police will always have to prioritise which incidents they attend, threat to life is always a priority.
Anti-Social Behaviour on the Prom: Insp Booth agreed to ask PCSOs to look into this.
Last autumn there was a problem with lots of young people coming in from outside the area. Greater Manchester Police sent PCSOs over to help to identify individuals.
Bus shelter on Low Leighton Road: Concerns were raised about young people aged 10 to 15 gathering later at night, which was intimidating for the elderly people who live there.
Insp Booth agreed look at it, and if any crimes were being committed, but said there was a need to strike a balance as children need somewhere to meet friends.
High Lea Park vs Newtown Rec? Five years ago there were problems at Newtown Rec, then they moved to High Lea Park for a couple of years and have now moved back to Newtown Rec. Incidents occurred all nights of the week and random nights. Any decision on where young people should be allowed to gather maybe needs to consider which is furthest away from houses. Town councillors agreed they would look at this.
Underage drinking: Alcohol is often involved in anti-social behaviour by young people. An anonymous survey of young people in New Mills a couple of years ago showed that 85% of those who drank were given the alcohol by their parents. Parents need to consider the implications of their children drinking alcohol.
Illegal taxis: these need to be reported to High Peak Borough Council who are responsible for licensing taxis.
Cllrs Alan Barrow and Lance Dowson offered to assist where reports were made to the Borough Council who weren’t getting anywhere.
Ruth and Alan thanked Insp Booth and residents who had attended for raising concerns and hoped they had a clearer picture of the pattern of policing and how our more stretched resources are being deployed as effectively as possible.